Definition - What does Polyurethane mean?

Polyurethane (PU) is a flexible, resilient and highly durable fabricated material which can be used in various applications to take the place of:

  • Rubber
  • Paint
  • Cotton
  • Wood
  • Metal

It can take many forms such as:

  • Upholstery foam
  • Fiberglass
  • Protective coatings like varnishes
  • Glue and other sticky substances

It was created in the 1940s and has been in constant use since then. It is still in use and adapted for modern technology.

Polyurethane is also known as urethane.

Corrosionpedia explains Polyurethane

Polyurethane is extremely versatile. It is modern, flexible and safe. Due to this, it is widely used in a broad range of applications to produce industrial or consumer products that have a vital role in making lives comfortable and convenient.

It is classified under polymers, which is a molecule containing a repeating series of tinier units called monomers according to its chemical construction. It is created with the mixture of two compounds called diol and diisocyanate, which are both monomers throughout a chemical reaction. These result in a material that can be smashed, scratched or stretched and still maintain its integrity. The resulting polyurethane can be in different forms such as solid, foam or liquid depending on the diol or diisocyanates constituents, and each type has its own limitations and benefits.

For instance, polyurethanes that are under the category of elastomers have elastic qualities with some degree of rigidity. It can be used in items such as dolly wheels with its excellent shock absorbing properties. This type of polyurethane can be also used as foam in upholstery or as an insulator. This type possesses structural memory, meaning it can be deformed again and again and still retain its original form.

Moreover, polyurethanes can also be used to resemble some forms of fiberglass, plastic or metal. Other uses of polyurethane are evident in almost every home, building and material. Since its use throughout the World War II, this polymer has offered protection and reinvented innumerable items. It can seal surfaces like metal and wood and can be used as coating to protect such materials from fading or corrosion.

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